Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Claudette" -- plein air field study -- oil on birch panel -- 12x9"

My painting buddies and I finally had our first "potluck paintout party" last Saturday. For fun, I asked my neighbor Ann if she would try to get Claudette, a friend who does Civil War reinactments to come and model for us. We always paint landscapes, but some of us thought it would be fun to try doing a "figure in the landscape". Claudette has several authentic-looking Civil War outfits that she sewed herself. It was about 90 degrees, yet she was most happy to pose for us in this WOOL outfit. She even had her bluejeans on underneath! I'd have been dead in 15 minutes with all that heavy stuff on.

Painting the features (eyes, mouth, etc) was challenging, as I had no brushes small and delicate enough. (Excuses, excuses!) The skirt came out pretty good. I used dry-brush technique on that to create the plaid effect. We parked Claudette on a little cast-iron seat under a big tree, thinking the shade would be constant. But ha ha -- there was a gap in the branches and we had the dilemma of ever-changing sunlight and shadows.

Plenty of laughing going on during painting. Hearing laughter, coming from artists who are painting you, might be an unsettling feeling for a model. But we were all laughing (and mumbling to ourselves) about our OURSELVES. Painting figures and faces ain't easy! You can smoosh paint around and get it to look like a tree, but you can't expect to smoosh paint around and still get it to look like a person. Much less a recognizeable person. Still, it was a welcome break from the monotonous green of summer. Ironic -- for months we bitched about the endless "sour owlshit brown" of winter and here we were, barely into June, looking for a break from green!

Before Claudette showed up to model, a bunch of us painted in Tammy's backyard, concentrating on an old boat lying upside down at the water's edge. The ground was pretty spongy. Actually, the backyard IS a bog. Mosquitoes were plentiful. And there were a few little "doggie presents" to detour around in the grass. If a person stepped into the water, as inviting as it looked on such a hot, muggy day, they would instantly sink up to their chest in slimy mud. And if the quicksand didn't get ya, the snapping turtles would.

Some of my buddies painted down the road, standing on a little bridge. Others set up on the beach at the lake, about 1 block down the road. Everybody managed to finish a couple paintings.

We all had a wonderful time. The food was fabulous. There was everything from brats on the grill to sushi rolls. Strawberry pie to peanut butter cookies. This club eats good! We're thinking of having a second "potluck paintout party" this fall.